The US Agency for International Development (USAID), on Wednesday, announced a new partnership designed to support enterprises and projects engaged in the sustainable landscapes sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land use.

This 10-year partnership with the Rabobank Foundation, Ananya Finance for Inclusive Growth, and Samunnati Financial Intermediation and Private Services, will make available up to $15.3 million in local financing to small and medium private enterprises, cooperatives, producer companies and microfinance institutions, directly or indirectly engaged in the sustainable landscapes (agriculture, forestry, and other land uses) sector.

The loan portfolio guarantee will encourage projects that follow low-emission land use and land management by preserving or restoring forests, and encouraging agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration.

This partnership supports the government’s priorities to improve the livelihood of forest-dependent people and small and medium farmers

Conservation projects

This will be done by supporting small and medium forest-based conservation enterprises, and by promoting agro-forestry and agro-forestry-based enterprises. Agro-forestry has the potential to increase the income of farmers, and at the same time divert pressure on the forests for timber, fuel wood and fodder.

Commercial viability

In addition to facilitating the much-needed flow of institutional credit, this partnership will help demonstrate the long-term commercial viability of lending to the sustainable landscapes sector.

Affirming USAID’s commitment to advancing natural resources security and improving economic opportunities, USAID India’s Acting Deputy Mission Director, Xerses Sidhwa, said: “We, at USAID, are proud to encourage private sector lending in key sectors that are vital to economic development and natural resources security.

“Increasing access to credit to groups engaged with the sustainable landscapes sector will help them improve their own lives and improve their surrounding natural environment.”

Commenting on the partnership, Paul Schuilwerve, CEO and Country Head India, Rabobank, said: “As responsible organisations, it is essential to make a cooperative effort and act together to address the daunting side of climate change on food and agriculture.”